Three people killed, 14 injured in February 2016 crime spree that ended at Excel Industries

NEWTON, Kansas, February 21, 2018 — The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence today filed suit on behalf of the family of murdered Excel Industries employee Joshua Higbee against A Pawn Shop, located in Newton, Kansas. The lawsuit alleges that A Pawn Shop negligently sold firearms in a straw purchase, which were then used by a known convicted felon in a February 25, 2016 workplace shooting. One of the guns was a semi-automatic assault rifle, similar to the type used by gunmen in recent mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Joshua Higbee was killed when Cedric Ford opened fire on his colleagues at the Excel Industries factory in Hesston, Kansas. The workplace shooting occurred during Ford's crime spree that began in Newton, Kansas. Ford killed three people, including Higbee, and injured 14 others.

The complaint alleges that A Pawn Shop transferred an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle and a Glock semi-automatic handgun to Sarah Jo Hopkins, despite numerous indications that she was acting as a straw purchaser for Ford. Federal law prohibited Ford, a convicted felon, from purchasing and possessing firearms. A straw purchase is when someone buys a gun for someone else, and it is a violation of federal law. Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman and The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed the suit in the District Court of Harvey County, Kansas.

Subrina Luke, Joshua Higbee's wife, stated, "Joshua was a wonderful man and a wonderful father. It feels like we lost everything when he was taken from us."

"Whatever your views are on gun issues, we can all agree that gun dealers have a responsibility to do what they reasonably can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," said Jonathan Lowy, Vice President, Litigation, and co-counsel for the plaintiff at The Brady Center. "When a gun dealer chooses to engage in irresponsible sales practices that arm dangerous people, that dealer should be held accountable."

"Straw purchases are one of the primary ways that dangerous criminals get guns," said David Morantz, co-counsel for the plaintiff at Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman. "Gun dealers serve on the front lines of the battle to deter gun violence. This lawsuit will help ensure that gun dealers adhere to their duty and keep guns out of the hands of criminals."

Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman is a personal injury and civil litigation firm in Overland Park, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. The firm successfully represented the family of victims in the Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting against Walmart, which sold one of the guns used in the incident.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to reducing gun injuries and deaths in America by stemming the causes of gun violence. Brady works in the courts to reform dangerous and reckless gun industry practices that give criminals and dangerous people access to guns. For over 25 years, Brady has brought lawsuits across the country against irresponsible gun companies on behalf of victims of gun violence and has won numerous victories, including court decisions and settlements in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Brady Center won landmark rulings in the Supreme Courts of Kansas and Missouri holding that gun dealers may be liable for shootings using negligently sold guns.

Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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